Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports arrival of his latest letter with enclosed photograph which she has sent to his parents. Continues with family/acquaintances news and hopes he has received photographs she sent. Announces news that her parents should be home in the spring and describes recent activities including her new factory job. Mentions daughters activities/progress and continues with other gossip.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To Sergeant J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 436,
Stalag Luft III, Germany.
[inserted] [circled 36] [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, N.W.4.
Wednesday, 18th November 1942
[inserted] R & A 4/2/43 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
This morning, to my great joy, I received your letter No. 21 of 12.10., with attached photo. I was tremendously thrilled to get the snap, although as you say it is not particularly flattering of you; still it is really you, and as far as I can see from it, you look quite fit and cheerful. Frank looks a nice fellow too; as I happened to be writing to Olga I mentioned that I had the photo, in case Vera doesn’t receive a copy too, because I could cut Frank off and send to her. I have at once sent off the photo to your people; it was a wrench to part with it so soon, but I thought it wiser, and I only hope they will return it quickly. I am not very sure how I stand with them at the moment. I invited Ann to go with me to see “The Importance of Being Earnest” and got two tickets for us, but she wasn’t sure if she ought to, so I wrote to your Mother asking for permission ten days before the date of the show; however she didn’t answer my letter at all, so I don’t really know what is up. Just before they went down to the country she rang up and said Frances and I must go down and stay with them, but I pointed out that it is difficult for me to get away, specially with the baby and in winter time, and in any case we are asked not to travel unless absolutely necessary, and she rang off rather abruptly. So I am rather afraid she is offended, but I can’t help it and don’t feel I am at all to blame. However I am sorry if it means that I am not to be allowed to have Ann over here at all, because I enjoy her visits and I think she does too, specially now that she is at boarding school the whole time. Luckily I was able to get rid of the theatre tickets at the last moment, so that it did not involve me in grievous financial loss.
I’m sorry to see from your letter that you did not receive mine with the photo of Leslie. If we can find or make another print, you shall have it later on. The photography is at a rather low ebb just now because Ba’s camera still has not come back from the repairers – some spring inside it gave way.
Mr. Turner, who made my costume, is a self-made man who has now moved up in the world and lives next door to Lensing’s Uncle and aunt. He has a kind heart and a glib tongue, and pays liberally into the savings group. Lensing’s relations are charming. I don’t see them often because they both work all day and I don’t go out much in the evening. But they save 3d bits and buy certificates from time to time for little Anne Maryke, whom Lensing will maybe know. I had a long chat with them last Saturday, and like them both better and better.
I hope you received the photos with my letters 19, 20, 22 and 24. The small one I’m sending today is pretty lousy but I thought you might as well have it. We have now had an airgraph from Mother saying they definitely expect to come home in the spring and if they do, I ought to be freer to turn my attention to our future home. I am looking forward to getting your views on the subject.
Last Sunday there was a most stirring service at church, the building was packed out, complete with mayor, corporation and all the local bigwigs, contingents of ATC, GTC, ARP and GKW, and people standing in all the aisles. The bells were rung too, and everybody felt pretty cheerful. Unfortunately they chose one of the hymns we sang at our wedding, so that I missed you worse than usual. However it was a fine service.
[page break]
My factory job is going ahead satisfactorily. I have been three times now and go again tomorrow evening. I have been promoted (at least I consider it promotion) to the workshops where I manipulate an electric lathe – last night I had one with 4 different tools on it, so that it was quite fun to work. I have also received my first pay packet, containing 6/10 1/2 – not much perhaps but still I earned it. That is the rate for one evening, and I am hoping to save a good bit out of my wages. But more important than the money is the job itself and the satisfaction that I get out of it.
Last Saturday afternoon Frances went in nextdoor [sic] to play with Jill, who has recovered from her measles now, so I took the opportunity to do some gardening. I cleared and dug over the top patch beyond the roses and forked in a good helping of bone meal, ready for the fruit bushes which ought to arrive any day now. They will cost 30/- to £2 (if I have Telkamps man to put them in and prune the blackberry, as I plan to do) so I think they will have to count as our present to my parents for their birthdays. There is no point in sending them anything anyway, when they are just coming home. Mother has written to say that she has posted a parcel to you, so I have urged her to send as much chocolate as possible even though it doesn’t travel awfully well and sometimes tastes a bit queer I expect you will be glad of it.
Charles rang me up the other day while he was home on a spot of leave. He says he has written to you, which is not altogether a good thing considering the mail ration. He sounded very cheerful and sent you all good wishes. It was nice to hear from him again. I had a letter from Olga too; she has heard recently from Jack, he has been having a great time, very busy and is naturally pretty thrilled with the way things have gone.
Last Thursday I went out to dinner with the Mairs, Clair and David Oppenheimer were there and also a college friend and her husband who is Wesleyan minister over at Friern Barnet, - quite a nice couple. The more I see of David the less I like him, though Clair is quite entertaining. Yesterday Barbara and Frances went out to tea together to a friend of Barbara’s, so off I went to the pictures to see “Coastal Command” an excellent film which I thoroughly enjoyed. On Sunday evening, when Ba was home, I went to a concert at the Orpheum where Myra Hess and the Griller string quartette [sic] played Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak, it was very lovely. With three evening a week counted out for the factory, I have to organise things pretty carefully to get all the necessary sewing, ironing and letter-writing in to the remaining evenings – certainly shant [sic] embark on any more large-scale dressmaking.
Frances is now trying much harder to say words and copy what we say, and those she knows she trots our incessantly. She is very fluent with Teddy, bicky, wo-wo, ball, bird, and bye-bye, and greatly admires any embroidery on her own or other people’s clothes, which she strokes and fingers and calls “Pretty”. She has also developed a very charming way of stroking one’s face with her soft little hand and cooing, when she wants to show her affection. She has also got a very strong will of her own, and is amazed and enraged if you don’t, for instance, give her a biscuit whenever she thinks [deleted] for [/deleted] to ask for one. However, her storms are very quickly over, whether of temper or because she has hurt herself, and she really is a sunny-natured wee thing, mischievous as an imp. How you will love to play with her when you come home! And she will love it too she does miss her father, whether she realises it or not. So, incidentally, do I. Thank you so much for all the lovely things you wrote in your letter, I never tire of hearing of your love.
With all my love & a big kiss from Frances for Xmas & the New Year



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19990.

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